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Tennessee soldiers return from deployment after 8 months in Kuwait

The company was deployed in October to complete engineer construction operations in the region.
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 6:34 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2022 at 11:30 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Soldiers with the 702nd Engineer Company were returning home after an eight-month deployment in Kuwait, Friday.

The company was deployed in October of 2021 to complete engineer construction operations in the region.

Returning back to East Tennessee, family members anxiously waited for the tour bus carrying soldiers to roll in.

”Butterflies, I can’t wait to just give him a hug,” said Michelle French whose 23-year-old son, Isaac, was returning.

French and other family members held signs and American flags, filled with pride and tears of joy to have their loved ones back in their arms.

”We’re immensely proud of them and the job they’ve done and the fact that they’re giving their time and energy to this country but we want them home,” said French.

Soldiers walked off a long white tour bus with gear in hand, locking eyes with loved ones and taking in a warm embrace after months of being in the middle east.

”We were able to go out there and complete our mission and that’s all we can ask for,” said 1st Lt. Jessica Covert the company commander.

Covert stayed around until the last soldier left with their families. Standing side by side with hers, gripping a cold drink to celebrate they return home.

A week of warm temperatures East Tennessee grappled with prior to their return wasn’t anything the group wasn’t used to over the past several months, but the rain storm that rolled through as they landed at McGhee-Tyson airport, was a welcomed sight.

”It actually was the fact that it was a rainy overcast day, we haven’t seen rain in those eight, nine months,” said Covert with a smile.

Covert’s father, David Vanderveen, was one of the loved ones standing by to welcome her home. A veteran himself, he was beaming with pride for his daughter who led a successful mission thousands of miles from American Soil.

”I could bust, I know what it’s like to be company commander and to go into deployment, she did something not a whole lot of others are willing to do and she did it and she did it well,” said Vanderveen.

More than 120 soldiers returned to their families, now going home to get a warm meal, cold drink, and rest, ready to reacclimate to civilian life over the next couple of weeks.

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